[EDITORIALS]Patronage and retaliation

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[EDITORIALS]Patronage and retaliation

Lim Chang-yuel, the outgoing governor of Gyeonggi province, has caused some trouble for his successor by ordering a massive number of promotions and job changes among provincial officials just 10 days before his term expires. Regional officialdom is already agitated and anticipating a sweeping round of personnel appointments during the transitional period after the June 13 gubernatorial and mayoral elections; Mr. Lim's promotion of close aides has caused concern about rampant favoritism in post-election appointments.

Gyeonggi province has transferred two senior officials, promoted 17 junior ones and hired two new recruits. No explanation can justify such a move. In particular, Mr. Lim's appointment of the director of the province's gender equality bureau, the highest-ranking position he touched, seems very flawed, because one of his close aides got the position that had remained vacant for three months. The province did not even abide by guidelines from the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, which asked the provincial government not to make any appointments shortly before the end of the governor's term.

Sohn Hak-kyu, the Gyeonggi governor-elect, has called the personnel moves invalid and announced that he will review them immediately after he takes office. But he will not be able to undo the appointments, because the current law bans a head of a local government from transferring officials to other positions for at least one year after an appointment is made. Similar problems may also occur after new heads of local governments are sworn in, because many local officials had openly campaigned for candidates. Now regional officials are nervous and expect that their incoming bosses will make patronage appointments and retaliate against supporters of their defeated rivals.

The June 13 elections have resulted in changes in nine of 16 governors and mayors of major cities. Some 131 out of 232 heads of smaller regional governments are to be handed over to new faces. This massive change is expected to lead to large-scale personnel changes down in the ranks. Appointments affected by favoritism and retaliation may well cripple the operations of regional governments.
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